Ahaziah's year of folly

1 And the inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah his youngest son king in his stead: for the band of men that came with the Arabians to the camp had slain all the eldest. So Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah reigned.

The unhappy state of Judah, the miseries arising from the foreign invasions of the Philistines and Arabians, the wars undertaken against Edom and Libnah, with the evils within that would follow upon the suppression of the temple service, and the undoing of the good Jehoshaphat had brought to pass - this unhappy state of affairs which would not cease from the accession of a son coming from such a stock.

The tree - bad in Ahab and Jezebel - was made far worse in Jehoram and Athaliah; the fruit of such an union proves worthy of the tree equally corrupt with its bearers.

"Can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit?"


2 Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned 1 year in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Athaliah the daughter of Omri.

3 He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly.

The friendliness commenced with Jehoshaphat towards Ahab would naturally increase after the two families had inter-married. Thus we find Ahaziah repeating his grandfather's action in helping Ahab; he joins with his uncle Joram, Ahab's son, in battle against the Assyrians at Ramoth-Gilead.*

4 Wherefore he did evil in the sight of Yahweh like the house of Ahab: for they were his counsellors after the death of his father to his destruction.

Jehoram's youngest son, the only one left, was immediately installed as king, but he would prove to be but a figurehead under his mother's control. At twenty-two, 6 Ahaziah was no match for her powerful and determined character, and he continued his father's reign of evil, aided and abetted by his mother, who was his counsellor to do wickedly.

There would be no restitution of the worship of Yahweh during this man's reign. He continued their family entanglement with the kingdom of Israel, and foolishly associated himself with the king of Israel in battle against .Jehu, the divinely appointed scourge of the house of Ahab. Jehu discovered Ahaziah hiding in Samaria, and slew him there as but another guilty branch of the house of Ahab, which indeed he was. 7

Worse, however, was to follow, for Athaliah, true to her character, seized power for herself; and shortly afterwards her own grandchildren lay dead, as she moved ruthlessly to eliminate any challenge to her rule.

For several dark years, the family of Jezebel were in control of both the northern and southern kingdoms. At such times, when those in authority enforced apostasy, how could the singers on instruments be heard?

When the house of God was damaged and neglected, what chance was there for their courses to praise Yahweh in the beauty of holiness? The song of Yahweh was silenced at the sanctuary, and in its place the unfaithful burned incense unto Baal, in the temple built for him in Jerusalem, and where no doubt the queen worshipped. 8

Yet it was during this period that the House of Asaph learned a valuable lesson in faithful witness. Even in times when they might not have been permitted to sing at the temple, it was always possible for their family to sing in secret. It is certain that they did, for when Jehoiada intervened, and made sudden request of them at a moment's notice, their family was prepared.

From henceforth there would be several occasions in their history when the House of Asaph sang in solitude but in secret dedication to their God. In keeping faith, and preserving their song through the habit of private practice, they contributed to the survival of the Truth, for in Judah's darkest moments they kept it alive within their household. They sang alone so that, when needed, they might sing before all.

6 His age is given as forty-two in the Chronicles account (2 Chronicles 22:2), but this is not possible as it would have made him older than his father at accession (21:5). The parallel record lists his age as twenty-two, which is to be preferred (2 Kings 8:26).

7 2 Chronicles 22:7-9.

8 2 Chronicles 23:17; 24:7.

5 He walked also after their counsel, and went with Jehoram the son of Ahab king of Israel to war against Hazael king of Syria at Ramothgilead: and the Syrians smote Joram.

6 And he returned to be healed in Jezreel because of the wounds which were given him at Ramah, when he fought with Hazael king of Syria. And Azariah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Jehoram the son of Ahab at Jezreel, because he was sick.

7 And the destruction of Ahaziah was of Elohim by coming to Joram: for when he was come, he went out with Jehoram against Jehu the son of Nimshi, whom Yahweh had anointed to cut off the house of Ahab.

Thus was the eighth son of the house of David slain, destroyed by the sword of God in the hand of Jehu; and again is the throne of Judah vacant. We look now for a son of Ahaziah to succeed, as had been the case with all former kings, for Ahaziah had many sons. But no, there is now to be a new thing in the earth as concerning the rulers in Judah.

The opportunity has at last presented itself; the throne is within her grasp, and Athaliah's ambition is satisfied.

"Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem" (2 Kgs. 8:26).

He was therefore but twenty-three years old at his death; the children were young and tender, and at least had claims on the natural affection of Athaliah - her own flesh and blood, her own grandchildren.

But natural affection under the teaching of Baal had no proper place: its devotees were like brute beasts made to be taken and destroyed. A ritual that made prostitution a religious obligation would be utterly incapable of producing either a moral character or developing those finer sentiments so abounding in the Law of Moses and teaching of Christ.

These filthy abominations were practiced in the very House of the Lord itself - in that glorious temple built for His worship and service. So utterly degenerate had Israel become that Baal was established in Zion and Yahweh forgotten (2 Kgs. 23:4).

We readily understand the hatred such practices would engender in the human mind against those things written in that Book which the kings of Israel were commanded to study. To Athaliah it would be an intolerable burden, grievous indeed, and in like measure to those priests of Baal abounding in Jerusalem.

No such opportunity for serving Baal in Judah had before been possible. Now was the golden chance - the pinnacle of fame to be reached - High Priestess of Baal and Queen of Judah!*

8 And it came to pass, that, when Jehu was executing judgment upon the house of Ahab, and found the princes of Judah, and the sons of the brethren of Ahaziah, that ministered to Ahaziah, he slew them.

9 And he sought Ahaziah: and they caught him, (for he was hid in Samaria,) and brought him to Jehu: and when they had slain him, they buried him: Because, said they, he is the son of Jehoshaphat, who sought Yahweh with all his heart. So the house of Ahaziah had no power to keep still the kingdom.

10 But when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah.

The murderous hostility of the mother against the priests of God, finds its counterpart in the daughter. True to the family instinct Athaliah stops short at no crime that serves her ambition and animosity. Void of all that is admirable and lovely in woman, the innocent children are ruthlessly slaughtered - her intention being to exterminate the house of David, and -


Bro Growcott - A woman on David's throne

11 But Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king [ Yehoshavat Bat HaMelech], took Joash the son of Ahaziah [Yoash ben Achazyahu], and stole him from among the king's sons [Bnei HaMelech] that were slain, and put him and his nurse in a bedchamber [cheder hamittot]. So Jehoshabeath, the daughter of king Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest, [Yehoshavat Bat HaMelech Yehoram, the isha of Yehoyada HaKohen] (for she was the sister of Ahaziah, [achot of Achazyahu]) hid him from Athaliah [Atalyah], so that she slew him not.

12 And he was with them hid in the house [Bais] of Elohim 6 years [shesh shanim]: and Athaliah [Atalyah] reigned over the land [HaAretz].

In such times of crisis, Yahweh provided deliverers, and on this occasion help was at hand in the persons of Jehoiada and Jehoshabeath, a couple of remarkable integrity and spiritual insight, and with a capacity for action. Jehoiada, who was the High Priest in the nation, 9 had married a woman of wonderful faith, none other than Jehoshabeath, the daughter of king Jehoram. Daughter of the king she might have been, but she was evidently not the daughter of the queen, for in character, she was strongly opposed to Athaliah. 10

As sister to Ahaziah, however, and as a princess of Judah, she had access to the royal palace. When Athaliah launched her purge against the young children of Ahaziah, Jehoshabeath succeeded in stealing the youngest, a tiny babe but a few months old, 11 whom she hid in the storage room for the palace bedding, placing him there with his nurse. 12

When it was safe to do so, she then moved him from the palace to the temple. Her bravery in rescuing Joash was extraordinary, for had a word been breathed to the queen, her own life would have been forfeit.

Jehoiada, by virtue of his office, resided at the temple in one of the many chambers which surrounded it, and it was in this place, so prominent and yet so private, that Joash was secreted away, to be raised as one of the children of Jehoiada and Jehoshabeath.

Not until the seventh year of Athaliah's reign did Jehoiada finally feel ready to launch an initiative that would seize control of the kingdom, and return it to the true worship of God. It was a task that would demand all his ingenuity and skill, the spirit of unwavering courage, and the dedication of decisive and meticulous planning.

Choosing his moment with care, he called together the captains of the hundreds and made covenant with them. They in turn went quietly throughout the realm to gather the Levites, that they might assemble in Jerusalem. Perhaps they had dispersed to their villages when Athaliah had disrupted the worship of the sanctuary; but now, under Jehoiada's bidding, they returned, and the courses of priests, singers and porters were again set in operation.

9 In Chronicles he is simply referred to as "Jehoiada the priest" (2 Chronicles 22:11; 23:8; 24:2), but the parallel record confirms that he was in fact High Priest (2 Kings 12:9,10).

10 The record is careful to emphasise Jehoram as her father (2 Chronicles 22:11), but is silent as to her mother. Given her faithful spirit, it is reasonable to infer that she was the daughter of another of Jehoram's wives (21:17).

11 The fact that Joash was seven years old (2 Chronicles 24:1) in the seventh year of Athaliah's reign (23:1) is proof that he can only have been recently born at the time of her accession to power.

12 "Together with his nurse, he was for a short time concealed in 'the chamber of the beds', apparently that where the mattresses and coverlets of the palace were stored, and which would offer a very convenient hiding place. Thence his aunt removed him to a still more safe retreat in the Temple" (Bible History: Old Testament, Alfred Edersheim, volume 7, page 13).

Bro Roger Lewis - The House of Asaph Ch 6